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Real Life & Liars Paperback – June 16, 2009

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 327 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; 1 edition (June 16, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061706280
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061706288
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #433,724 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The Zielinskis, the dysfunctional family of Riggle's delightful debut, have some problems, even if things at Mirabelle and Max's 35th anniversary party—thrown by their three adult children—at first seem peachy. Soon, though, the cracks appear: daughter Katya's stuck in a loveless marriage and saddled with three bratty kids. Son Ivan's a struggling songwriter who falls for all the wrong girls, and the youngest daughter, Irina, is a free-spirited 21-year-old, knocked up by a man twice her age. There's just no more room in their lives for another problem, but Mirabelle has a secret—she's dying of breast cancer. With ease and grace, Riggle walks the fine line between sentimentality and comedy, and she has a sure hand in creating fun, quirky characters. Humorous and humane storytelling makes this much better than the standard cancer tear-jerker. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Mirabelle and Max Zielinski’s children have returned home for their parents’ thirtieth anniversary. Mirabelle must tell them that she was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer, but they’re preoccupied with their own crises. Katya, the eldest, hides behind a perfectly controlled front, but her marriage and affluent lifestyle are in jeopardy. Ivan, the moody middle child, keeps pursuing the wrong women and can’t get his songwriting career off the ground. The youngest, Irina, shows up with a surprise husband and pregnancy. Faced with her mortality, Mirabelle is stricken by how her children have diverged from her hippie upbringing and wonders if they still need her. Riggle crafts a moving and accomplished first novel about a family coming to terms with change. The characters are familiar but not stereotypical, and the quaint setting of Charlevoix, Michigan, a beachfront town, adds to the nostalgic feel. --Aleksandra Walker

More About the Author

Kristina Riggle lives and writes in West Michigan. Her debut novel, Real Life & Liars, was praised by Publishers Weekly for its "humorous and humane storytelling" and by Booklist as "a moving and accomplished first novel." The book was a Target "Breakout" pick and a "Great Lakes, Great Reads" selection by the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association. The Life You've Imagined was honored as an "IndieNext Notable" book by independent booksellers.

Her latest novel, Keepsake, is about a hoarder and her estranged sister reluctantly united to clean out the hoarded home to keep Child Protective Services at bay, and much more than junk is uncovered.

Kristina has published short stories in the Cimarron Review, Literary Mama, Espresso Fiction, and elsewhere. She is also a freelance journalist writing primarily for The Grand Rapids Press, and co-editor for fiction at Literary Mama. Kristina was a full-time newspaper reporter for seven years before turning her attention to creative writing and freelancing. As well as writing, she enjoys reading, yoga, dabbling in (very) amateur musical theatre, and spending lots of time with her husband, two kids and dog.

Customer Reviews

Whoever Ms. Riggles is, I hope she is working on her next novel.
Kindle Customer
Ms. Riggle did a fantastic job of writing each character and allowing him/her to have his/her own voice.
I just finished REAL LIFE & LIARS and now I want more of this fantastic book.
M. Richards

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Julie Peterson on July 12, 2009
Format: Paperback
I am very happy to say that REAL LIFE AND LIARS was a fantastic book. I always seem to enjoy books that are heavy on character development and deal with intense family dynamics, so it wasn't a big surprise to me how much I appreciated this novel. I became absorbed in the story and the characters from the start and had a hard time putting this book down. I was also extremely touched by this story because it pointed out to me how difficult it can be for families to just get along with each other -- an all too real situation for many families. The parts of the book that dealt with resentment and sibling rivalry were very honest looks at dysfunctional families as well as terrific material for a story about family dynamics. I think many readers will relate in some way to this story.

I absolutely love how Ms. Riggle chose to tell this story. The book consisted of many brief chapters from Mira and her children's points-of-view. For some reason, this format really kept me reading because it seemed like each short chapter left me wanting for more. I thought it was so creative how even though the chapters told each person's part of the story, only Mira's chapters were written in first person narrative. I thought this was crucial to my enjoyment of the novel because I didn't always relate to Mira. Being able to get into Mira's head and "hear" all her thoughts really helped me to not only understand Mira, but also to better understand the entire family.

I also enjoyed all of the characters in this story, and I thought Ms. Riggle developed them so well. That's not to say that I would want to be friends with all of them, but I thought each character was very real and made the book very interesting.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Caroline M. Grant on July 7, 2009
Format: Paperback
I adored this first novel by [...] fiction coeditor, Kristina Riggle. The novel takes place over the course of a weekend, when Mira Zielinski's three grown children come home to celebrate their parents' wedding anniversary. I loved all the characters, from the knowing but flawed Mira, her distracted novelist husband Max, and then their three kids: Katya, a suburban mother of three who, as Mira puts it, "drags [her younger siblings] along under the wheels of her train"; Ivan, a struggling songwriter who can't see the love that's right in front of him; and Irina, who is accidentally (reluctantly) pregnant and married to a man who isn't going to let her screw it up. They are vivid and engaging, and the writing is terrific; I kept stopping to reread sentences, letting the images sink in, and to wonder, with pleasure and admiration, "How did she think of that!?"
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 23, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I came at this book with a bias -- I went to college with the author and we worked at the school paper together. That is part of the reason I held off on reading it for so long -- what if I hated it? Fortunately, I didn't hate the book. At the start, I felt like the characters were too stereotypical -- the hippie professor, the distracted writer, the Type A first born, the unloved middle child (imagine "Jan" from The Brady Bunch) and the free-spirited youngest. It bothered me until I realized that by presenting these stereotypical characters, Riggle made it easier for all of us to relate to them. I particularly liked her dual use of the first person and third person narratives - something that took me a bit to get used to but worked really well. Like other reviewers, it was nice to see the book not end neatly tied up. Lately it seems like most new novels want to end with a neatly tied bow. And as Riggle points out that is not "real life" and those who pretend it is are just "liars".
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By M. Richards on September 24, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I just finished REAL LIFE & LIARS and now I want more of this fantastic book. It surprised me in so many ways, from the way it was told, to the characters and ethereal, but warm, family setting, to the weaving of one family's turmoils into a quilt of joy and revelation. The author did an excellent job of creating each character's story and then leading me through the maze of conflicts and resolutions. I loved the writing. Loved each character for different reasons, and laughed many times. Do yourself a favor and read this novel. I think I may just reread it again!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By BookFinds on September 19, 2009
Format: Paperback
Real Life & Liars (Avon Books) is Kristina Riggle's debut novel and it is, in one word, amazing! It is the kind of book you want to curl into on a rainy Sunday and finish in one sitting. Riggle's clear and honest writing pulls you into the emotional story of one family, gathered together for an anniversary party. Each member of the family has a secret that is pulling at them and begging to be revealed, but at the same time they are all striving for an ultimately unattainable image of "perfection."

The story is told in alternating third person narratives from each member of the Zielinski family, except for one, Mirabelle. Mirabelle Zielinski tells her own story because it is ultimately her story to tell. As the matriarch of this unusual clan, Mirabelle loves them all fiercely but lives a life entirely by her own rules. As each character struggles with secrets of pain, betrayal, love and success, the truth ultimately reveals itself. Real Life & Liars has an underlying theme of sadness and struggle, but it is really a story of hope and survival and the mistakes we all make in trying to live life the best way we know how. I whole-heartedly recommend this book for anyone looking for a story that will help them see life in a more hopeful and optimistic way. Real Life & Liars proves that we really are in this together and family is certainly one of the strongest ties that bind. I can't wait for Riggle's next novel!
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